Wisdom of Nym: Reactions to the Final Fantasy XIV Tokyo Fan Festival

    
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The other side

So we’ve now had our final fan festival for Final Fantasy XIV, and for heaven’s sake we managed to get one big hype-derailing moment in the middle that you just can’t freaking ignore. And it’s not even a case wherein the developers should have known better because we already know that they do.

It’s impossible to talk about this fan festival without talking about the two new races, and that’s a shame because that was a smaller portion of the overall festival and the revelations included therein. On a lesser level, it’s also hard not to talk about the way that it very firmly yanked a lot of people’s expectations about job balance away. And some of those things could have been avoided, some of them couldn’t have, and some of them are ultimately pretty unnecessary. So now I’m going to have to talk about it, and that irritates me because I expect this development team to make better choices.

Yay, except not.

No one wanted this: Hrothgar, Viera, and gender-locking

Let me make something very clear. This whole gender-locking thing? Is bad. If there ever comes a point when it sounds like what I’m saying is that it’s completely fine that Hrothgar and Viera are gender-locked, that is not what I’m saying. I dislike this. I am unhappy with this. It is a bad decision that is not serving anyone, and I have to do a lot of theorizing to come up with a possible reason why this might have been a reasonable decision.

Do I have a theory? Yes. I don’t want to put it in this column, though; look for that in a couple of weeks. Today, I want to focus on the fact that the only reactions to this were either “negative” or “not personally affected,” and that in and of itself should be telling. This was a bad choice, and the only real defenses about it are that it was the least-bad choice out of a series of bad choices.

Worst over, this is re-making a bad choice that the developers already learned from. They already knew this was a bad decision. One part of the reboot was fixing this bad decision. So it doesn’t even have the usual excuse of not knowing how players would react. They had to expect backlash about it.

That having been said, while it’s something that upset me and still upsets me, it’s something that also numbed out pretty quickly. Yes, this is a bad decision, but it’s a bad decision that is hardly unique to FFXIV and it’s a far lesser sin, to me, than gender-locking classes. It’s bad and it’s a decision that should not have been made. I am disappointed that this is the route they’ve decided to go. Let’s hope that the team takes the feedback to heart; for now, I’m moving on.

This looks fun.

Balance is not what you think: Dancer, the ranged DPS

Here’s a case wherein lots of people guessed right about the thing (new job is dancer) and wrong about the role. And here’s a case where disappointment actually gave way to being on-board once I read the developers’ rationale.

Specifically, the reasoning was that ranged DPS as a role had two options. Every other distinct role in the game had at least three choices even before the new jobs; adding a new tank allows for a better differentiation between the tanks, while adding a new healer doesn’t necessarily allow for more definition there. And… yeah, that’s accurate. We do have a paucity of ranged DPS options, this is something we’d need at some point, and adding it here and now is probably not the wild unbalancing that people are predicting any more than adding two more DPS during Stormblood ruined everything.

It helps that Dancer actually looks, well, really neat. I’m a sucker for both dual-wielding and thrown weapons in general, and a version of Dancer doing its weird twirling and such makes more sense than the previous MMO using dancer as a self-healing Monk-with-daggers. It looks like fun, and adding another ranged DPS is a good thing for Bard and Machinist as well.

Am I sad that we don’t get a new healer? Yes, a bit. But the game has already sort of set us up to have at least two more expansions down the pipeline to bring us to the “traditional” level cap, and this definitely does not feel like the last expansion. Unless we get five new jobs with every expansion someone’s always going to be a bit left out in the cold, and while healing is a very important party role, the health of the game is not about any one role.

That being said, of course… yeah, if we don’t get another healer in the next expansion there’s going to be Issues. Best start planning for that now, folks.

We're first among everyone now.

Of course this isn’t Garlemald

I’d been saying before the expansion reveal that we weren’t going to Ilsabard to take down the Empire. Clearly, I was right. I was not right about where we are going, though; instead of another continent, we’re actually world-hopping. And while there’s some stuff that mildly troubles me about this, it really comes down to the fact that I want to explore every part of the planet we’re already on, and I doubt at this point that we’ll have enough time to explore the New World, Meracydia, Ilsabard, and other related points.

But the actual First and Norvrandt? Oh, this looks like fun.

For one thing, it’s definitely got that fun alternate universe feel, but unlike Wings of the Goddess where it felt like a quick asset turnaround rather than something that was carefully considered, here it feels like the similarities are there to help the players ground themselves instead. And we have enough space, with six zones, to see similar-but-different versions of all the major regions in Eorzea – we know Lakeland is Mor Dhona, Il Mheg seems like it’s Coerthas, Rak’tika Greatwood instead of the Black Shroud, Amh Araeng could easily be Thanalan, and Kholusia could be Gyr Abania. Throw in La Noscea (or perhaps just the areas around Eulmore) and you’ve got a chance to play with everything.

It also serves to escalate the conflict without forcing us into an unbroken spiral upward. The things happening on the First definitely influence the Source, and it’s a chance to learn more of the Ascians, but it forces us onto the back foot and pushes us into unfamiliar territory.

I want to learn more about this. I want to find out more of this realm’s history and to find out what all of the jobs are called there (we know that Black Mage is Magus and Paladin is Knight, for example), to discover the different ways all of these various races have carved out different niches for themselves in a very different world. (My first thought is that Mystel are the “mercantile” race while Viis may be the “feral” one; perhaps the Galdjent settled chiefly in Amh Araeng this time?) I want to see how the place is played up as familiar yet different, carving out new spaces and introducing us to a greater understanding of the cosmology.

This is something that’s been set up for a very long time in subtle background elements. And while I do love the idea of seeing more of our world, this is hardly an out-of-nowhere swerve; it’s just one that never seemed like it would get center stage. Instead, we’re going to a land of sickly, constant light cloying against everything.

There’s lots more to speculate on there… but I’ll have to save that for the future because next week will be a recap of the Main Scenario with the launch of the story’s conclusion. The week after that? Yes, the gender-locking theory. Feedback is welcome until then in the comments or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com.

The Nymian civilization hosted an immense amount of knowledge and learning, but so much of it has been lost to the people of Eorzea. That doesn’t stop Eliot Lefebvre from scrutinizing Final Fantasy XIV each week in Wisdom of Nym, hosting guides, discussion, and opinions without so much as a trace of rancor.

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ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

Can’t wait to hear your reaction to this patch.

Warning for everyone: make sure to set aside appropriate time for the end of MSQ! You’ll need at least.. like.. 20 minutes. Maybe 45 at the most. It’s a real…something. Not much of something, but something.

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Nicholas

I’m breaking my nearly year long lurker status because I honestly believe the devil’s advocate point of view needs emphasized more with the gender locking. Before I say my opinion I wanted to clear up that I enjoy your articles, Eliot, and look forward to your thoughts on the gender locking controversy.

Occam’s razor says this decision was one of time constraint. Races are one of the most intense processes in creating new features for an MMO. It requires many departments to contribute ranging from art to programming. The fact they are releasing two races (regardless if it is just half of each) is a pretty demanding feat. It is also to be mentioned that a race is an aesthetic feature. An important one, yes, but a feature that offers little in regards to interactive content. I bring this up not to minimize the issue but to support my theory why this decision was made in the first place. Personally, I believe races to be crucial part of the play experience. Especially in RPGs. However there are people who likely don’t understand nor care and are probably the reason behind this decision. Executives.

Yoshida (good or bad) likely made a decision based on political strategy. They were probably strapped for time and knew they could only get one race implemented and maintain schedule. Now I’m not sure how many people are used to working with executives, but they usually don’t care about the why’s of daily operations. In fact most actively avoid hearing it. It should also be mentioned this is Japanese business culture which is even more about respecting superiors decisions. What I’m saying is Yoshida wanted both races (with both sexes), but knew only one could happen. It is probable that Yoshida’s bosses are only looking at simple metrics on what features have the biggest return on resources spent. I can almost guarantee development time to player engagement is likely one metric (or something similar). Races fall short of this, due to the implicit nature of the enjoyment. Instead of just having one race developed and risk the other going into project purgatory, he created half of each knowing the kind of demand the other sex would create. This way Yoshida and team can get both races out without undermining superiors. At least overtly.

My supporting point for this theory, is that Yoshida said if there is a enough demand they would make the other sex for each race. Of course there is demand. He knows this. How can he not? I can empathize with people’s frustration, but this is a situation of having your cake and eating it too. I can almost guarantee the races aren’t going to be gender locked forever. Granted the outrage is part of the plan to get the races finished. I’m just saying I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.

TL;DR: Yoshida be gaming those out of touch executives, yo. We win in the long run.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

You don’t really need to invoke occam’s razor to explain the decision when the same explanation was already given by Yoshida himself in numerous interviews this weekend, including two posted below :)

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Nicholas

I understand. The point of using it was to start a path of logic by using a logical tool for the main thesis of the argument, and that was the decision for the gender lock is ultimately the best one in the grand scheme. I’ll give you that the post is a little long winded, but I’m going to blame that on writing it at 3 in the morning waiting for a toddler to go back to sleep. Ha.

JonBuck
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JonBuck

And here’s the video recap of that interview. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGezcBuu-mc

JonBuck
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JonBuck

There’s an interview of Yoshida by YouTuber MrHappy I think it’s worth a read. My take on the gender-locking from this interview is that they wanted to add two new races, but didn’t have the time or budget for doing both genders. And Yoshida gives the possibility of adding the missing ones later.

WrathOfMogg
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WrathOfMogg

A new ranged DPS using throwing weapons was something I asked for and specifically predicted for Dancer, so I’m super excited that it’s real. Very sorry, my healer bros. I wish you guys were getting a new job too. :'(

Maybe I’m missing something in the lore, I’m not really up on it, but I don’t understand why this game needed TWO races of cat people. There are so many amazing races in the FF universe. Why not diversify more?

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Sorenthaz

Here’s part of Yoshi-P’s reasoning on why there’s not a fourth healer:

When we were deciding what the other role would be, the last remaining options were a third ranged DPS or a fourth healer. However, we were still struggling with balancing the three existing healers, and SCH was always dominant because of the fairy. Even if we re-balanced them again for 5.0, and even if they also have the shield healer vs pure healer dichotomy, we thought it would be better to solidify the balance between the three healers instead of trying to balance four. By adding a third ranged DPS, we could round out the number of jobs per role.

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/ffxiv/comments/b51e3k/tokyo_fan_fest_day_1_media_interview_with_yoship/

And that does make sense. Throwing on a fourth healer to try and make people “happy” instead of addressing issues with the current three would just be a bad idea at this point.

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Anthony

I am legitimately worried about Hrothgar not being finished in time for launch, on their showcase trailer they look rough like they are not completely done yet and the news that they will not be able to show head gear at launch didn’t help either.
All in all i do hope we can adjust even just a bit the body type as i would like something midway between Highlander and Roegadyn when it comes to body size, since robes look absolutely awful in Roes due to their body size being comparable to a fridge.

JonBuck
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JonBuck

I love their faces…not so happy about their bodies, either.

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styopa

Honestly, I don’t care about the Viera/Hrothgar. I find the decision surprisingly tone-deaf for devs who are usually pretty in synch with their weeaboos, er, customer base. (I kid, I kid, I enjoy the game a lot). The whole “but LORE” excuse is so meaningless by this point (there are literally MILLIONS Of people who think they are the SOLE WoL?) they shouldn’t have even bothered.
Dancer as “ranged DPS” meh, again, not a big deal for me. I do expect to see a billion spinning/dancing sexy bunny chicks (they sort of look Tera-ish, to me, which isn’t a compliment). I guess if tons of people are going to jump into a job at lvl 60 and screw up dungeon runs with classes they don’t know how to actually play, it’s probably better they’re ranged dps than tanks OR healers…I main a WHM and have 70d AST, SCH, and (almost) PLD now. I *personally* think that despite not actually getting a healing job, we’re going to see a major rework in WHM as it needs it, it’s been radically outclassed in utility by SCH and AST for a while.

I think the story’s interesting, at least, as long as one is able to suspend disbelief that Garlemald apparently is busy with … well, straightening up her shoe closet while we go off to other planes.

As usual, most of these issues have ballooned into ridiculous levels of rage/love/hate/whiteknight/whatever on reddit and forums simply illustrating (again) that more than a new class to play, internet-board dwellers need some emotional maturity and perhaps to get the fuck out of mom’s basement once in a while (literally or figuratively).

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Coldin Torrence

I’ll have to go back and check over this, but I thought the Rak’tikka Greatwood was already stated to be adjacent to the Garlean Empire, and we visited it during the Return to Ivalice storyline. Seemed like only Laketown and the two cities we were shown were part of the first shard.

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IronSalamander8 .

Not really a fan of gender locking things, barring a damn good reason in the lore so while I wouldn’t make a male Viera anyway, I don’t agree with their decision here. (admittedly I haven’t played in a few months anyway but I still find FF14 to a solid MMO). WAR always irritated me with the fact that you couldn’t play a female Champion of Chaos or a Marauder, yet you could be a male dark elf sorcerer (back then in the lore all male children with magic affinity were killed as Malekith feared a prophecy about them).

As far as the dancer, I thought for sure it would be melee DPS as I would think their agility would mean they would use a graceful form of martial arts (ala some real world martial arts do), but this is probably a good idea. They do need to get the healers all in a good place before adding any more. I’m curious about the Gunbreaker class but haven’t tanked in awhile as I hate PuG tanking that much.

Overall good stuff here.